While there’s little doubt that he’ll sign his rookie deal eventually, Burrow said on “Pardon My Take” on Friday that he hasn’t signed yet in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic — which has placed a huge cloud of doubt over the upcoming season.
“I haven’t signed the contract yet, so we’re just kind of waiting to see what happens over the next three months, because we really don’t know,” Burrow said.
There were more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 76,500 confirmed deaths attributed to the virus.
The NFL has said that it plans to start the 2020 season on time in September, and even released the full schedule on Thursday night. However with team facilities still closed, no vaccine for the virus and testing still not readily available, the season this fall could look drastically different — potentially with a delayed start, games without fans or being canceled altogether.
It’s easy to see why teams would want to hold off on officially signing high-profile picks amid that uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic could significantly impact their revenue stream this fall, with a loss of stadium and ticket revenue, altered TV deals and more being very real possibilities.
Burrow is expected to receive a nearly $24 million bonus when he signs his deal, too — which is enough money to make a real dent in Cincinnati’s short-term budget plan.
It’s not like Burrow is holding out, however. He’s participated in three days of Zoom calls with other Bengals rookies last weekend, and will start the virtual mini-camp on Monday.
“We got three days with the rookies, so we got a chance to bring them up to speed on the things they’ve missed the week before with the veterans,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Friday, via ESPN.
Most other top rookies also haven’t signed yet. Per ESPN, Carolina Panthers rookie Derrick Brown became the first player selected in the first round to officially agree to terms with his team when he did so on Friday.
So, Burrow will sign eventually. But at this point, there’s no rush to get it done.
Until then, though, Burrow is just living in his parent’s basement in Ohio waiting for the moment he’ll be allowed to visit the Bengals’ facility for the first time.
“My dad likes to make the joke that I’m a 23-year-old millionaire living in my parents’ basement,” Burrow said.
“I’ve got to ask my parents if I can go to the grocery store to pick some stuff up. It’s like I’m in high school again. I’m quarantined in my house and I have to ask my parents to do anything.”
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